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DID YOU READ

The week’s critic wrangle: “Fido,” “Eagle Vs. Shark,” “Lights in the Dusk.”

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"My father tried to eat me. I don't remember trying to eat Timmy."
+ "Fido": Andrew Currie‘s film, the latest zombie reevaluation to hit theaters, is intended more to provoke laughs and poke fun at "Lassie" then to carry a message of social import. That just fine by David Edelstein at New York, who describes the film as "[a] shotgun wedding of George Romero and SCTV" and call it "madly funny—a treat for moviegoers who don’t mind gnawed-off limbs with their high jinks." Manohla Dargis at the New York Times concurs, deeming "Fido" a "ticklishly amusing satire" that doesn’t push what could be seen as a slavery allegory: "Unlike Mr. Romero or the zombie comedy ‘Shaun of the Dead,’ where the living are so zombie-like they don’t initially notice the undead, the filmmakers remain content to graze and to nibble, skimming the surface rather than sinking in deep." Michael Joshua Rowin at indieWIRE, on the other hand, does find underlying social commentary in the film: "It’s an alternate history in which the by-now classic metaphor for the unspoken fear lurking beneath the repressed behavior of Fifties mainstream society exists very much out in the open."

Rob Nelson at the Village Voice is less amused: "Within 20 minutes, Vancouver-based writer-director Andrew Currie leads us to stop expecting actual jokes while squandering the talents of an overqualified cast." Nick Schager at Slant finds the film’s inability to define its central allegory dissatisfying:

Consumer products who perform menial labor and household chores, the zombies are sorta like slaves, though the fact that they were defeated in a world war means they’re sorta like integrated Nazis, while their insidious, subversive assimilation into the ’50s nuclear family unit means they’re sorta like communists, and their willingness to have sex with Tim Blake Nelson (as a neighborhood perv) means they’re sorta like undiscerning whores.

 

Kiwi nerdcore.
+ "Eagle Vs. Shark": It’s seems safe to say that we are over quirk, or so the occasionally virulent reviews of New Zealand director Taika Cohen‘s feature debut "Eagle Vs. Shark," about a romance between, yes, nerdy outcasts, would indicate. On the positive side, Andrew O’Hehir at Salon describes it as "the latest contender for the Napoleon Sunshine cuddly-awkward award," but is still somewhat fond, calling it "a perfectly cheerful time at the movies, without any hint of drama or surprise." A little less keen is A.O. Scott at the New York Times, who writes that the film is "a small, intermittently charming, sometimes tiresome celebration of quirkiness."

From there we go to Tasha Robinson at the Onion AV Club, who cites the film’s clear influences and dubs it "a nerdcore clip show, a sort of straight-faced Epic Movie for fans of discomfort comedy." Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly complains that "[i]t’s a tale that reduces angst, not to mention love, to a generational tic." "You can’t see the forest for the twee in writer-director Taika
Waititi’s thicket of cutesy conceits, from the stunted supporting
characters to the precious animated interludes," notes Jim Ridley at the Village Voice.

At Slant, Nick Schager suggests that "Waititi cares less about the selflessness of Lily’s devotion or the intricacies of an amorous relationship than he does pitiful, photocopied Napoleon Dynamite-style gags, of which there are so many that the film’s imitativeness becomes out-and-out embarrassing." And Michael Joshua Rowin at indieWIRE delivers a screed against the film and the "recent trend of offbeat, adorable stillbirths about families of barely lovable misfits learning valuable life lessons in a world of kitschy crap" that we can only suggest you read in its entirety.

 

Finnish Gothic.
+ "Lights in the Dusk": No one looks to the films of Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki for over-the-top excitement, but what the critics are seeing in his latest deadpan feature is just as lacking in noticeable highs or lows. "Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki’s deadpan style isn’t always enjoyable," shrugs Armond White at the New York Press, who actually quite likes the film: "While rejecting the specious optimism Hollywood sells, he distills the world to its unadorned truth: work, anomie and frustration." Nathan Lee at the Village Voice is on the other side of the fence: "Delectation of cinematography aside—the picture carefully realizes the visual idea of its title—Kaurismäki has given us no special reason to revisit his coy, claustrophobic universe."

Scott Tobias at the Onion AV Club thinks the film represents a step back for the director: "Coming after the much more expansive Man Without A Past, which warmly considered a whole community of Helsinki outcasts, this relentlessly pared-down film feels a little arid and rote, too much like Kaurismäki going through the motions. It’s as if the director, having spent his career trying new variations on a theme, had just decided to go back to square one." No, Kaurismäki’s exactly the same, according to Jeff Reichert at indieWIRE, who lauds the fact that "’Lights in the Dusk’ is nothing more nor less than exactly the kind
film he’s always made. On a handful of occasions throughout his career
he’s plumbed this material better than almost anyone, and even if ‘Dusk’ may not come close to scaling those heights, it’s easy enjoyment
while we wait for the next attempt."

Ed Gonzalez at Slant hilariously asides that the film "suggests what it might be like to stare at Bill Murray in a coma for 75 minutes," but also finds that it is "bound to alienate the filmmaker’s coffee-drinking, cigarette-smoking
base with a tone that’s almost holier-than-thou, always teetering on
the edge of self-parody." Andrew O’Hehir at Salon notes the story is "unrelentingly grim," but that "there are sumptuous visual rewards to be found, plus the faintest emotional uptick right at the end," while Stephen Holden at the New York Times also calls out the "exquisite cinematography."

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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